Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, centre, on the last day of the Loya Jirga.APAP
Indian and Afghan officials in Delhi and Kabul discussed the outcome of the Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, in Afghanistan that advised the release of 400 Taliban militants convicted of serious crimes.
According to officials, the two sides discussed the likelihood of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar, which have been put off to next week, as well as the hopes for a permanent ceasefire, in a briefing two days after the Jirga’s decision. The intra-Afghan talks could now take place on August 16-17 in Doha, once President Ghani’s government releases all the men, bringing the total number of Taliban fighters released to about 5,500.
The officials said the release was conditional, and contingent on a reduction in the level of violence by the Taliban as well as a “humanitarian ceasefire” for civilians to be transported during the coronavirus pandemic without fear of the Taliban.
The Taliban is also required to guarantee that none of the men being released will return to combat.
Sources also told The Hindu that once the talks in Doha, between government representatives, civil society members and the Taliban take place, another round of talks could be scheduled in Germany, which has offered to host them.
According to an official, talks are also on for the release of the last of the group of seven Indian hostages still held by the Taliban following their abduction in 2018. Two hostages were released and returned to India last week, while four others had returned earlier.
It is hoped that the release of the Taliban prisoners will include those demanded in exchange for the release of the Indian hostage, who was an employee at a power plant project run by Indian engineering company KEC. He was abducted at gunpoint by Taliban militants in Afghanistan’s Baglan province two years ago.
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